Lagos – A Nigerian journalist was detained for reporting that relief materials were allegedly being diverted from a camp for flood victims, his employers and police said on Saturday.
More than 100 000 people were forced to flee their homes in early September following floods in central Benue state, prompting authorities to set up makeshift camps to distribute relief materials to the victims.
Emmanuel Atswen, a reporter with the state-run News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was arrested on Friday over his September 12 story on a protest at a camp in central Nigeria which accused officials of diverting relief materials.
“The reporter was arrested over an alleged defamation of character and falsehood by a commissioner involved in the relief efforts,” state police spokesperson Moses Yamu told AFP.
He said the commissioner for water resources had complained he was wrongly quoted as confirming that materials were being stolen.
“The commissioner insisted he did not say what was attributed to him and asked that the story be retracted,” he said.
He said it was true materials were being moved to another camp, but the reporter said they were being diverted without verifying his story.
Yamu said the journalist had been released.
“He was released on bail this morning and has been asked to report back to the police on Wednesday,” he said.
NAN on Saturday said it stood by the story because it did not violate “the tenets of the journalism profession”.
Nigerian officials are often accused of diverting relief materials for their personal use, sparking regular protests at camps for internally displaced persons, especially in the northeast where Boko Haram Islamists have waged an eight-year rebellion.